Insomnia: Questions and Answers for Your Doctor

If you have insomnia, good communication between you and your doctor is crucial to helping you to get a better night’s rest. Your doctor will ask about your sleep problems, sleep habits, and medical history, among other things.

Assist your doctor by keeping a sleep diary. That way, you can provide accurate information on how long it takes you to fall asleep, how often you wake up during the night, how much you nap, and other important details.

To get the most from your visit, be sure to ask your own questions about what may be causing your insomnia, as well as treatment options and lifestyle changes.

Questions That Your Doctor May Ask You

  • How often do you have trouble sleeping? How long has the problem lasted?
  • On your work days and days off, when do you go to bed and get up?
  • How long does it take you to fall asleep? How often do you wake up at night, and how long does it take to fall back asleep?
  • How refreshed do you feel when you wake up? How tired are you during the day?
  • How often do you doze off or have trouble staying awake during routine tasks, such as driving?
  • Do you snore loudly and frequently or wake up gasping or feeling out of breath?
  • Do you have any new or ongoing health problems?
  • Do you have any health conditions or injuries that cause pain, such as arthritis?
  • Do you take any over-the-counter or prescription medications?
  • Do you use alcohol, tobacco, caffeine or any other substances?
  • Do you exercise?
  • Do you travel long distances or experience jet lag?
  • Do you have any new or ongoing stresses related to work, personal problems, or any other issue?
  • Do you have any family members with sleep problems?
  • Do you worry about falling asleep, staying asleep, or getting enough sleep?
  • What do you consume (food, drinks, medications) before bedtime? What routine do you follow before going to bed?
  • What are the noise level, lighting, and temperature like in your sleeping area?
  • Do you have any distractions in your bedroom, such as a computer or TV?

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Questions to Ask Your Doctor

  • How do I know if I have insomnia?
  • What may be causing my insomnia?
  • How do I know if I’m getting enough good sleep?
  • How can I prevent insomnia?
  • What’s the best treatment for me?
  • How can I manage my other health conditions, along with the insomnia?
  • Do any of my medications put me at higher risk for insomnia? Are there alternatives that are less likely to cause insomnia?
  • Where can I get help with depression, anxiety, or psychological problems?
  • How can I learn to reduce stress?
  • Is behavioral therapy a good option for me?
  • Can sleeping pills or other medications help my insomnia? What are the benefits and side effects of the drugs? Are there any drug interactions to be aware of? Are there sleeping pills that aren't habit forming?
  • Can any complementary or alternative therapies help me?
  • Should I exercise? During what time of day?
  • Are there activities that I should avoid that could disturb my sleep?
  • How can I make my bedroom better for sleeping?
  • Should I stop or limit caffeine, alcohol, or nicotine?
  • How can I get help to quit smoking?
  • Will my sleep improve if I lose weight?
  • Is it all right to nap during the day?
  • Do I need to see a sleep doctor?

These days, medical appointments can be brief. But you and your doctor will have plenty to discuss, because so many factors can contribute to insomnia -- stress, lifestyle, poor sleep habits, health problems, and medications. Being proactive is important. Come prepared for your visit by jotting down your questions and concerns and anticipating the questions that your doctor might ask you. Consider taking notes during the appointment to help you recall any recommendations.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Sabrina Felson, MD on October 23, 2017

Sources

SOURCES:

American Sleep Association: “Insomnia.”

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center: “Talking to Your Doctor About Insomnia.”

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